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Upgrading An Old MacBook To An SSD

Posted by tomwiles at 9:57 PM on December 4, 2012

One of the machines I have is a 6 year old 13” white plastic Intel MacBook. In recent years I’ve used it as a backup machine just in case I needed it. It has a 2 gigahertz Core 2 Duo processor and is maxed out at 2 gigabytes of RAM.

Solid State Drive prices have been dropping lately, so I figured making the swap to a solid state drive and the performance boost it would bring would be worth it. I ended up buying a Crucial 128 gigabyte SSD for around $104 dollars with Amazon Prime picking up the shipping cost.

This evening I made the installation. I started out by installing the new SSD in an external Firewire enclosure and installing OS/X onto it first. After a very smooth, painless installation process, OS/X asked me what I wanted to transfer from the old drive to the new one, and though I left out most of the documents and other clutter, I did tell it to move the applications over, which to my surprise it did a stellar job of copying over to the new SSD drive.

After rebooting into the new drive while it was still connected via Firewire, I copied over a few miscellaneous files I needed and then shut everything down. Next, I swapped the new drive into the MacBook.

The results are nothing short of amazing. The old 7,200 RPM hard drive made the machine seem sluggish and non-responsive. With the SSD in the same machine, things seem to happen almost instantly. The conclusion I take away is that conventional hard drive performance has been a bigger performance bottleneck than we realized.

The days of the conventional spinning hard drive are numbered. The conventional hard drive will one day be going the way of the cathode ray tube monitor and floppy discs.

If you are tempted to shell out big bucks for a new machine just to get a performance boost, if you have an older machine that has otherwise good hardware, consider upgrading to an SSD for an incredible performance boost at a fraction of the price of a new machine.

2 Comments

  1. From Brent at 1:47 am on December 5, 2012

    I too did this to an older Dell E1505 laptop. I bought it in 2007, intel Duo Core 2 2.0ghz, also maxed out with 2gb of RAM. Sounds like our machines were close in specs (besides the obvious Windows/Mac). I only put a 64GB SSD but I only use it for email on the go and leave the computer in a locker at work so it serves no other purpose at this point. I agree, best update you can do if the RAM is maxed out.

  2. From tomwiles at 7:25 am on December 5, 2012

    The SSD performance boost is amazing. Stuffing a machine with RAM has never given me this sort of boost.

    Imagine how slow smartphones would be if they had actual spinning hard drives…